It takes balls, literally and figuratively, to sing so knowingly about a vasectomy. But in the swaggering, amped-up title track to Love Makes Us Weird, Beacon's own Stephen Clair does just that, turning a four-syllable word into a tight rhyme with the line "Who are we?" The 10 tracks of this unabashed rock album provide several open-ended answers to that question, shining light on folks walking with open arms into the second acts of their lives. Clair, a one-time childless, wayfaring troubadour, finds fascination in the domesticity that's been the focus of his life since his last CD in 2008. His sharp, unwavering eye and well-honed rock-poet phrasing render the vicissitudes of adulthood—marital strife, urban fear, and dad lust—as song-worthy indeed.
The epic "I Like the Way We Fight," in particular, offers this self-aware gem: "You can get a lot of songs out of being lousy, when it comes to messing up those loving opportunities." It takes lyrical chops to make resisting temptation interesting. Similarly, "At the Foot of the Mountain" reveals the wonder and power of morning light on human-defaced nature, offering hope in a punky guise. Bassist Jay Nicholas and drummer-vocalist Todd Giudice bring equal parts sensitivity and raw power to Clair's electric riffage, while producer Al Hemberger expertly balances the rocking with Clair's distinctive wordsmithery and conversational delivery. Clair rides it all with infectious gusto, brightening the corners of his life, and ours. He'll play the Falcon in Marlboro on February 9. Stephenclair.com.